Congressional Republicans are seemingly afraid to stand up Donald Trump and his reckless agenda, but at least some members of their party are not.
In a rare bout of bipartisan resistance, almost every secretary of state in America has now informed the Trump administration that their states won't be fully cooperating with its demand for voter record.
The request came from a newly formed commission set up to essentially spread misinformation about the supposedly rampant crime of millions of people voting illegally in this country. In other words, it’s an attempt to “study” what’s essentially a non-existent problem: voter fraud. And it's a commission being overseen by Vice President Mike Pence.
The silver lining from the scam commission may be that a new set of heroes has emerged — at least temporarily — as Republican secretaries of state across the country have put duty before party and forcefully refused to comply with the administration’s bogus attempt to vacuum up personal information about American voters.
The fact that it’s been local Republican officials smacking down the commission is worth noting. It also raises the pressing question: If they can do it, why can’t GOP members of Congress stand up to Trump and his increasingly unhinged behavior? Why have so many of them based inside the Beltway been operating under the premise of blind loyalty, especially when polls show they’re the ones who may ultimately pay for Trump’s political sins?
“The charge that Republicans by and large put party above country is entirely valid,” conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin recently lamented.
The White House’s colossal commission flop began on June 28, when Trump’s presidential commission set up to study “election integrity” sent a letter to all 50 states demanding unprecedented access to public and private voter data dating back to 2006. Vice Chair Kris Kobach wanted states to hand over Social Security numbers, party affiliation, addresses, birth dates, mothers's maiden names, criminal backgrounds, and the military history of voters.
The immediate response from a handful of states was emphatic: No way.
But it wasn’t just blue states like California telling Trump’s team to get lost. It was red states, too.
“My response to the Commission is, you're not going to play politics with Louisiana’s voter data,” fired back Louisiana's Republican secretary of state, Tom Schedler. “The release of private information creates a tremendous breach of trust with voters who work hard to protect themselves against identity fraud.”
And from Arizona’s Republican secretary of state, Michele Reagan: “I cannot in good conscience release Arizonans’ sensitive voter data for this hastily organized experiment.”
Even Pence’s home state of Indiana rebuffed the administration’s misguided voter request, with the state’s Republican secretary of state, Connie Lawson, telling Korbach the state’s personal information about voters was off limits.
At last count, 20 states are refusing to give Kobach any data, while another 25 are handing over only limited public information on voters, according to The Nation’s Ari Berman.
So if Republican secretaries of state scattered across the country can stare down Trump’s scam initiative, why can’t Republicans serving in Congress do the same? Why does there have to be an often strange cone of silence surrounding the GOP when it comes to Trump’s chronic and patently offensive behavior?
Think about all the chances Republican officials have had to denounce Trump, to distance themselves from his antics, and to insist that he adhere to civil U.S. protocols that have been in place for centuries. Yet time and again Republican politicians have looked the other way and helped normalize Trump’s awful, destructive behavior.
Maybe now, Republican senators and congressmen intimidated by Trump can look to GOP secretaries of states for examples of courage.